Delcam PowerSHAPE 2010 – Part 7

Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

OK, lets get down to this thing that Delcam calls Tribrid Modeling – a mixture of solid, surface and mesh modeling. In the previous parts of this series I designed a simple Lego block using solid modeling. In Part 6 I edited the model using surface modeling. In this part I am going to personalize the Lego block using mesh modeling, or as Delcam prefers to call it, triangle modeling.

I am going to have to explain “personalize” a little. Basically I am going to put my mug shot on the inner flat surface of the Lego block.

To do that I will need to take the help of one of my products – MeshCAD for Rhino. MeshCAD adds a number of mesh creating, editing and modeling commands to Rhino. One of them is called MCMeshFromImage which creates a rectangular mesh from a raster image (BMP, JPG, PNG or TIF). Using the MCMeshFromImage command I created this mesh in Rhino and exported it to a STL file. I will be needing this STL file in PowerSHAPE.

I am not sure whether PowerSHAPE can create a mesh from an image. At least, I couldn’t find anything in the menu system. So I went ahead and used MeshCAD instead. Anyways, now that we have a mesh of my mug shot, let’s use it to “personalize” the Lego block.

PowerSHAPE has an extremely powerful and fantastic feature called “Wrap” by which you can wrap a mesh on a surface. It is patent pending and works real slick. I selected the inner face of the Lego block and clicked Object > Feature > Wrap. This started the Wrap Wizard which guided me through the entire wrapping process.

I was taken directly to Step 2 since I had already selected the face that I wanted to wrap the mesh on.

I selected the DMT/STL File option and selected the STL file that I had saved from Rhino.

In the next step I was asked to choose the wrap method. As you can see there are quite a few ways that you can wrap a mesh on a surface. I chose Plane since I simply wanted to put my face flat on the inner surface of the Lego block. If I wanted to wrap it around something like a coffee mug, I would have selected Cylinder.

The next step allowed me to adjust the layout of the mesh. I accepted the default since I wanted to mesh centered on the face and I had already scaled it to size in Rhino itself.

The last step let me select the way I wanted to apply the triangles – protrude/emboss, the height of protrusion/emboss, etc. I clicked Finish and PowerSHAPE took some time off, I assume, to do some big time number crunching. When it returned I had my personalized Lego block.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Tribrid Modeling. Or rather, just one part of it. PowerSHAPE comes with a bunch of mesh modeling tools, such as boolean operations between meshes and even between solids and meshes. It also has pretty useful mesh fixing capabilities such as stitching faces, resolving overlapping triangles, etc.

I guess this wraps up my series on PowerSHAPE 2010. I urge you not to consider this series as a review. It is impossible to review a software as complex as PowerSHAPE just by fiddling around with it on your own for a couple of days. However, I can say that I was pretty pleased with the way I could navigate around the software and do things on my own without having to constantly refer to documentation. And speaking of documentation, I have yet to download the manual and tutorials, which I have been trying to do so for the past two days. I am not sure if it is only me but the download links are dead. I mean stone dead. The download window just sits there. I can download other stuff from the internet just fine. So I know that this is not an issue at my end. Anyways, I have reported this to Delcam. Hopefully someone will rectify this soon.

I was also impressed with the stability of the software. No crashes whatsoever. However, I did find the object picking mechanism a bit odd. But I guess that’s just a matter of getting used to.

I hope you liked this series. Do leave your comments if you feel like. But please avoid asking me things like how to do this and how to do that. You should consult the product documentation and tutorials for that. I am probably just as ignorant as you. 😉